January 12, 2010

Peace Corps outreach director speaks at career fair

Dozens of alumni and hundreds of students converged downtown Saturday to explore career possibilities and share trade tips at this year’s Taking the Next Step (TNS).

David Medina (A.B. ’91), the event’s keynote speaker, challenged the classes of 2011 and 2012 to make public service a part of their future and to “live life out loud”. Medina, director of public engagement for the Peace Corps, traced his experiences in Chicago social and political activism, urging students to give their lives greater meaning.

Medina, who worked on Carol Mosley Braun’s (J.D. ’72) successful senate campaign in 1993 and later became her aide in Washington, moved to the Peace Corps to focus on resolving poverty around the world. He formerly served as Michelle Obama’s deputy chief of staff in the White House.

After a recent trip observing Peace Corps volunteers in Panama, Medina said he felt humbled and inspired. “These volunteers were living their lives out loud with their service in the Peace Corps.”

Medina ended the talk by asking the students to imagine their futures. “Imagine devoting your life to helping. Imagine standing up here and being able to say, ‘I lived my life out loud.’”

Dean of the College John Boyer spoke before the lunch, joking that TNS would have made former President Robert Hutchins roll in his grave. Boyer said Hutchins, who believed universities should not “teach the young how to make a living”, would be appalled at an event so focused on getting students jobs outside of college.